the break up

I have started detaching myself one piece at a time.  I have removed my family, my best friend, and my significant other.  My hair is removing itself from my head.  My mind is removing itself from my body.

I am now removing myself from writing.

How do you bury someone alive?

I am writing an article about Grieving.  Seems ironic considering I know nothing about the subject.

My disconnections are in the vein of Stuart Little.  You never know.  There’s always a bit of hope (except for those who actually have died), but whether I’ll ever really understand where the pieces have gone, remains unlikely.

I don’t remember any discussion when my sister left home.  One night we were riding around in her car, me on her lap, listening to rap songs while her boyfriend speeded with the windows down.  The next thing I knew, she was gone.  The breakfast table was empty.  Her bedroom door was open, briefly exposing nothing.  And then it was closed.

There were rumors through the telephone that she would come back on the weekend.  Weekends came and went, but there was always an excuse.  Pretty soon there were no excuses.  There were no phone calls.

She came back around the holidays and years later she came back sporadically.  She had picked up an accent somewhere along the way as well as twenty or thirty pounds.  On the occasions where she spent the night, she left early the next morning.  I never saw her go.  I never saw where she went.

It seems like it always happens that way, but I know the reality is different.  Friends slipped away into drugs, calling less and less until one day, I called and there was no answering machine.

I guess I need to accept the fact that my mom and I will never have a relationship again.  There is always the hope, but when I discuss the situation in therapy, my mind always steers me to the same conclusion.  It’s better for me not to have a relationship with her at all than to have a polite, strained relationship where we talk about current events.  I couldn’t do that.

How do you bury someone who’s alive?

Beauty

Do all girls think their mother is the most beautiful woman on earth?  Mine really was.  Teachers of mine often asked about her.  She always had dates.  Architects, doctors, classical musicians.  Some I met, some I didn’t.   I was proud to be able to fit into her clothes.

The first time I saw her in my reflection, I was in a guest house in Maine.  I was just passing by the mirror on my way to some place else when I saw her.  I had always looked like my dad, never my mom.

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, but I only see me.

There’s really not much more I can say about my parents and although that should make me happy, it just makes me sad.  That chapter is over.   Everything seems so big and open now.  What do I do with the space in my head that used to be for questioning and doubt and anger? Just starting a course online or writing an article feels empty.

I’m calmer these days.  I’m grateful for a lot of things.  Medication, my schedule, friends, Netflix, coffee…  I take long walks and I think about summer dresses.  A space filled with fancy fabrics in the wind.

The elevator dream

2:56 AM

I am stuck lying down in an elevator.  Stretched and reaching out.  Half of my body is on the platform and my legs and stomach are still inside.  I’m worried the elevator will split me in half.

There’s a girl on the platform who is looking at me.  I try to grab her with both hands.  She stares, but she does not move.

Terror

Tomorrow my dad drives me to a city an hour away so that we can talk to a neurologist.  I know how this will go.  Dad will talk over me.  He’ll tell them about high school and he’ll make me out to look retarded.  I will let him because it is necessary.

Then three hours of testing.  All the things I hate most.  Physical stuff with my body being observed in various positions.  Coordination.  Monitored movement as I’m instructed to walk back and forth for twenty minutes etc.

Then a 1 hour lunch break with my dad.  This is the part where I’ll break down, I’m sure.

Then 3 more hours of testing.  This time the visual cards.  They will hold them up and then ask me to describe the people on them 30 minutes later.  Puzzles.  Problem solving worksheets etc.

Then I will have to go out with my dad for a big dinner because it’s his birthday.

Then we’ll drive the hour home while he blasts the air conditioning so that he won’t fall asleep at the wheel.  He always does past 9.

The alternative is staying overnight in a hotel.

“Your parents hate each other more than they love you.”

Today was a good day.

I bought orange juice at a health shop and walked around for awhile.  At an AA meeting, someone I used to know came up and gave me a hug.  She seemed happy to see me.  I walked home in the dark, thinking about the future.

I’ve decided that it’s okay to think about my parents at home now.  I give myself a five minute time limit where I can cry and then I have to get up and do something else.  I can have as many 5 minute increments as I want.

Schedules are important.  Without them, everything merges into a complicated mess.

I’m not attached to people like others are.  I don’t trust them.  It’s not that my parents didn’t love me.  They did.  My mother loved me a whole lot.  But it was conditional.   She would and did hurt me multiple times to get back at my father.  Maybe it would be easier if she never had loved me.  When boyfriend’s used to say that they loved me, I believed them, like I believed my mother.  But I also always think, you love me as long as it doesn’t get in the way of something else.  My mother loved me, but she hated my dad more.  My father loved me, but he hated my mom more.  Neither one of them hated me or didn’t love me, they just had other priorities.

How can you fully attach to someone if you feel instinctively that they don’t have your best interest at heart?

Today was good.  I was able to think about other things.  It didn’t take me ten minutes to finish a page in my book.  I bought a slice of lemon pie and ate it on my stoop.   I feel very alone, but I think I’ve always felt that way.  Today, I’m okay with that.

Brick Houses

Sunny day with the windows open.  Motown on the boombox.

For the first time ever, I’ve started adding pop songs onto my mp3 player.  New music is a sign of change.  I take long walks and listen to words I’ve never heard before.  They guide me in a different direction.   Down and around the usual blocks and then up and away through the grass.  I think about my future interviews on Joshua Johnson’s show.

Compartmentalization is the slow process of building houses brick by brick.   My life is compartmentalized into several rooms with a skinny hallway running in between them.  If I can stay in the hallway, juggle each section one at a time, and exit as quickly as possible, I will be free.

Room #1:  My dad encourages me to be disabled so that I will depend on him.  He does not allow for me to have credit or pay taxes.  All bills are in his name.  All money is accounted for.  He did not help me drive when I needed to practice and has subtly told me that I am not able to drive or do much of anything away from him.  Without him, I will fail.

Room #2: I have a real learning disability.  It may not be as severe as my dad makes it out to be, but it gets in the way of a lot of things.  I will not be able to go to college or have a nice job.

Room #3: I must play up this disability to file for government benefits so that I can stop depending on my dad for financial support.

I see the neuropsych tester on Friday.  My dad has hired someone out of a city near by.  He said he was recommended as a ‘favor’.  I have an idea of what this means, but I don’t want to think about it.

If I ‘win’ benefits, my dad assumes he will pay the difference so that I will still be dependent on him, yet he won’t be paying me as much every year because assistance will take care of half of it.  What he doesn’t know is that if I win benefits, I will work part time so that I can ease my way into work and be free from dependence on him.

My therapist keeps pointing out that my dad is making me sick, but I have to compartmentalize it so that I can go through with the disability process.

I hesitate to tell him everything because it seems to bother him more now.  I don’t understand why he seems more upset.  It’s closer to the end and I’m so close to getting out of this financial mess.

“This is out of a horror movie.” He says almost every session along with, “I’ve never seen this before.”  It’s okay, I want to tell him.  As long as everything goes well, I can start a new beginning.  I don’t think he understands.

“Do you think you’ll ever get free?” He’s started asking me this every session.

I always answer ‘I don’t know’.  I can’t help, but smile though.  “We shall see.”

It’s in the seventies now.  It was in the seventies yesterday too.  In the pouring rain, my friend and I sat way out in the country, eating grapes.  We talked about interior decorating and all the different countries we could have for each room.

The kitchen could be somewhere in South America.  Orange walls.  Clay pots.

The parlor would be Russian.

We talked about different colored wallpaper for each and every room.

Validating Existence

I’m starting to get to the bottom of things.

I have a terrible fear of doctors.  I think I fear them because I’m worried that they will have a huge impact on my credibility and the validity of my feelings.  I’m afraid they will neglect me until something really bad happens or they will determine me not worthy of complaining. Doctors are the ones to look at your body and acknowledge you exist.   I go into doctor’s offices defensive.  I have to prove to them that my symptoms are real.

Never once have they accused me of being dramatic.   They didn’t neglect my lung problems to the point where I thought I was going to die.  They did their job in testing my thyroid and catching the disease.  They are technically doing their job.  They are doing their job.

I just can’t relax.  Ever second I’m there I scrutinize what they’re thinking, how they’re staring at me, when they are writing things on their chart.  I ask them questions to see how they look when they’re telling the truth.  I act as calm as possible, I joke around.  I am hyper aware.

But I’m starting to come to terms with: doctors don’t have ultimate power.  Even if they do judge me, who cares? I’m not going to be a part of these doctor’s lives.   I find the whole system creepy, I’m not going to be in that community anyway.

And, what I feel is correct.  I don’t need to ask someone else if I’m really feeling something.  If I have symptoms, they are there.  And I can be confident that they’re there.  If someone wants to tell me they aren’t that bad or that I flat out don’t have those feelings, I don’t need to pay attention to them.  Their opinion doesn’t matter.  That’s on them.  I can be confident that my feelings are real without needing someone else to mimic it.

I’m terrified with this disease.  I hate living in and out of doctor’s offices.  I hate that fear and stress make the disease much worse.  It becomes a cycle if I don’t get this under control.

Doctors are just like sales people in a boutique store.  You tell them the event and they show you the outfits you can wear.  They work for you.  If you don’t like them, it’s no big deal.  Just smile and go to the next store.

diseased

An auto-immune disease is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.

A system of close corners, protected by the overarching sense of comfort and loyalty.  I will look out for you.  I will have your best interest at heart.  It’s instinctual and obvious. A functional host of a home.

But beware of the diseased.  They attack what’s inside so they can always hold on.

How appropriate.  I can peel off layers of flakey skin.   My hands look like an old woman’s.  Every time there’s hair in the sink, I am reminded my body is not my own.  I have never felt so diseased.

Today I want to curl up in freshly dried sheets in a hotel somewhere and cry.   What more is there to lose?

Stress

At least I could always laugh at the allergy people.  The people who broke out into hives because God-forbid they eat something their dainty little bodies couldn’t handle.  Precious children protected by their precious parents.  Fuck the allergy people.

I can’t laugh at anyone anymore.  I woke up this morning covered in a rash.  A few days ago I was fitted for a bra. Double D.  My hair is falling out.  My body is not my own.

Thyroid problems are not a big deal.  You get on thyroid replacement medication and eventually things will go back to normal.  Eventually.  I keep trying to tell myself, at least you’re not crazy.  At least all your heart symptoms, crazy mood swings, weight, and stomach stuff was because of something.

It’s a stress disease, they say.  If you get anxious or stressed out, the disease roars back despite the medication.  It throws your blood levels off until you readjust the dosage.

This week both my parents emailed me:

Hi kiddo!  Your old man made it to California!  Don’t forget, when I come back we’re going to the neuropsych evaluator.  It’s (in a city an hour away).

love,

Dad

There is a picture of a vase of flowers next to a navy blue and white striped bedspread. Why is he in California?  In the background there is a window looking out at the ocean.  A giant body of water.  Forever.

Then there is my mother:

I threw my neck out.  I was going to drive back from New England, but forget it.  Too much driving.  I flew home instead.  (my grandfather) is situated in his new apartment in town.  You can visit soon.

I haven’t responded to either parent.

At least the allergy kids were precious.